Guest blog post courtesy of Lacey from Minnesota Yogini. Learn more about Lacey here.
Can you believe the snowboarding season is almost here? Today we are going to walk through a short and fun yoga sequence you can do with your kiddos to get them ready to hit the slopes! Yoga is such a great thing to incorporate into all young athletes’ lives. Through yoga your children learn to increase their concentration, breathe effectively, develop body awareness and control, and learn the importance of showing themselves and their bodies love and respect. Yoga truly supports a whole child’s development and it is something they can continue to grow with all through their lives. The benefits a snowboarder can receive from yoga are endless, it can truly unleash superpowers!
Below is a short yoga sequence to get your child started:
Tip: With kids, keep it fun and lighthearted, not too technical – Introduce muscle names and breath but don’t dwell on it!
1) Cactus Arms
Cactus arms are a great way to loosen up the back and arms, and of course, it’s fun to act like a cactus. Have children stand with their feet shoulder-width apart, firmly pressing into the ground. Then have them find their cactus arms. From here you can do a variety of things. First, inhale open the cactus as wide as possible pulling shoulder blades together, and then exhale to close in front rounding back. Next, twist your cactus from side to side, inhale to stand tall, exhale on the twist. Finally, bend the cactus from side to side, inhale to stand tall, and exhale as you bring the elbow towards the hip on each side of the body.
2) Forward fold with Toe Taps
This is a simple and fun one, that takes more balance then you may expect. Simply inhale to stand tall and exhale as you fold forward bringing the hands to the ground. Knees can be slightly bent if needed. From here inhale as you try to lift the toes, and exhale as they fall. This is a great stretch for the legs and especially the calves. Toe taps also help strengthen the muscles around your shins and can help prevent shin splints. While you are hanging out with your hands down by your feet you can make it fun by mimicking different snowboarding grabs!
3) Warrior Two
Warrior two is a great pose to practice balance and coordination while gaining strength and flexibility in the legs and hips. It is also a great spot to introduce a “point of focus” (something to stare at to help your balance). This is a very helpful tool in snowboarding. In this pose have children make a T with their feet and arms, then move their back foot back to a wide stance. Put a deep bend in the front leg and hold for any given number of breaths. Then repeat on the second side. Make sure the front knee is not coming over toes to protect the knee joint. Tip to make this one fun: pretend you are cruising down the hill!
4) Camel Pose
After cruising down your imaginary hill in warrior two pretend to hit a jump and fall to your knees, reach back with one arm and arch your back, throw your other arm up, and here is your method grab (or a variation of half camel pose). You can also practice grabbing back with both arms to give the back a deeper stretch. Camel pose is great for stretching the back and opening up the quadriceps, hip flexors, chest, and neck muscles. Really a wonderful stretch overall, and definitely a fun one for kids!
5) Reverse Tabletop
After all this hard work, it’s time to eat! I mean hitting the chalet is a super fun part of snowboarding, right?! Reverse tabletop is like a crab walk, except you push your stomach up high to the sky and pretend there is a glass of water sitting on your stomach. This will help children gain core stability and will also stretch and strengthen their arms. To make it fun, I like to have kids pretend they are setting the table. Use your left hand to get the forks, your right to get spoons, etc. You can also crab walk around pretending to carry a glass of water on your stomach; don’t let it fall! This pose is not only fun, but it will strengthen young boarders’ muscles to help them get up when they fall!
6) Straddle Sit
After the table is set it’s time for pizza. Sit in a straddle sit and start by pretending to roll out the dough as far as possible, take turns reaching behind each foot to find your sauce and imaginary toppings to put on your pizza. Once the pizza is set, lean forward to the center for five seconds to cook the pizza in the oven. Lastly, don’t forget to take three deep breaths to blow on the pizza before you pretend to chow it down!
At the end of your practice, I recommend that you introduce your child to a little visualization. Have them close their eyes and imagine the perfect run! You can talk them through it to make it special. Try to have them tie some of the basic yoga lessons we learned today during our sequence. An example, “as you approach the top of the hill, take a deep breath, and focus on the line you will take, as you strap in, stand up feeling strong and confident. Begin your run focused and determined, as you glide down your run you feel comfortable and in control,” and so on. Make it unique to your child and focus on the things they need to hear. Visualization is amazing, especially if your young one goes on to do big tricks, this is a tool they will love having!
I hope that reading this made you excited to get your children started with yoga. You will not regret it! Wishing you a great season on the slopes!